Unemployment Is So Low Some People Have 2 or 3 Jobs
November 26, 2018 7:51 AM   Subscribe

What Happened To All The Steady Jobs? “Louis Hyman’s new book, Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary, shows that this shift in work did not happen on its own, and that it began long before the founding of Uber or TaskRabbit. In this persuasive and richly detailed history, Hyman traces a decades-long campaign to eliminate salaried positions and replace them with contract work.“ (The Nation)
posted by The Whelk (55 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hi, welcome to my life from 2004 to 2015.

For the first four years there, I was a temp-by-choice, since I was making a go at being a stage manager and wanted the flexibility to take stints off for rehearsals if necessary; but nearly every secretary in the financial industry was also a temp, and there was always a demand, and I was able to support myself. Then came the financial crash and temping was the only kind of work I could get, and the lack of down time (only one week of paid leave per year, which was expected to cover sick days, personal days, and any other vacation time) wore me out.

This has indeed been going on for a very long time. It's just that it mostly affected women so nobody cared.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on November 26, 2018 [52 favorites]


In a sense it started with the "part time" scam, where you are not eligible for any benefits if you're not putting in full time hours. Everyone has stories of working "part time" for 35 (or whatever) hours a week and never getting offered any more hours because that would push you over the line into full time.

Turning people into contractors so the employer doesn't even have to deal with the complexities of collecting taxes is just another step down the road. Then you don't have to worry about hours, though in some jurisdictions there are limits on how many months you can hire a contractor before they're considered an employee anyway for tax purposes. The government wants the employer share of income tax, justly so.

I reckon the solution is legislation, ideally in tax regulations, so there are no longer financial incentives for employers to fuck people over with shaved hours or "contract" jobs.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2018 [21 favorites]


This is certainly a big thing in construction. I've been offered jobs at places that hire their workers as "contractors" so that they don't have to pay into social security, offer benefits, or have a reason to fire them. The "benefit" that they use to spin this to prospective hires is that you can commit tax fraud and keep more of your wages in your pocket. (They don't say it in so many words of course, but it's heavily implied.) I've been fortunate to be able to reject those jobs and take better ones at places that treat their employees as employees. A question I ask in interviews is, "Are your workers 1099s or W-2s?" If they're not W-2s, I know it's somewhere shady and exploitative that I don't want to work at. Not everybody has the luxury of rejecting job offers, but if you're out there applying for jobs, being considered a contractor should be a huge red flag to you. Avoid if at all possible.

There are legitimate contracting jobs as well, of course. If you're after one of those though, you probably know it already.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


This is one of the reasons why we should have a part-time minimum wage as well as a full-time minimum wage, and the part-time wage should be 1.5x higher.
posted by fings at 8:38 AM on November 26, 2018 [70 favorites]


Yeah, I'd support that. Part-time is abused at least as much as contractor status.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:48 AM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


My son's job with the State of Virginia limits him to 29 hours a week so that they never have to give him benefits. I'm not expecting any payroll reforms in VA....
posted by COD at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also, if we had real universal healthcare that wasn't tied to a job I'd probably be much more ok with the gig economy.
posted by COD at 8:54 AM on November 26, 2018 [79 favorites]


This has been going on since the 80’s. I was at Apple, and there were more and more contractors working there. One day we went to visit an out of town friend who was staying at her parent’s house. Her father worked for the IRS, which was really starting to crack down on the employee as contractor scam a load of companies were doing. He started grilling me, in a polite way of course, about contractors at Apple. Did they have an office? We’re they there everyday? Etc. I had a job interview a couple of years ago here in San Francisco with a small web based education company. Everybody was an INDEPENDENT contractor. With an office. Everyday. The scam continues.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


*waves from contract hell* The problem in my current field is that all the desirable roles are contract roles. Typically in these roles the company wants to "test drive" first with a contractor before committing to bringing someone on board full-time.

So I end up contracting even though I KNOW how exploitative it is, because all the sexy, exciting, juicy stuff that looks good on a resume is in those roles. In my field, companies seem to hire full-time employees when they have a few specific tasks in mind that will be done over, and over, and over again.

Of course, this never applies to the executive level, just entry level and middle management stuff that tends to be staffed more by... well.... women. Amazing how that works.
posted by coffeeand at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


Yet another shitty result of the insanity of routing everything through employers. My employer is a small tech company. Why are we in the health care game? Why is that even a thing? If we decoupled unemployment insurance, health insurance, etc from employers, it wouldn't really matter if you worked 35 hours or 36, 39 or 40, other than a couple of hours' wages. Bad things happen when you try to mark down strict threshholds and say that employers have much higher obligations on one side of the line than the other.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2018 [34 favorites]


I checked out fiverr, and I found it to be kind of sad that a lot of people, evidently highly skilled in creative fields, are reduced to scrambling for crumbs there. Maybe they are doing well, or some of them are, but I bet a lot of them are barely surviving.
posted by thelonius at 9:16 AM on November 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also 2 cents as a Millenial (TM), I have never felt "safe" in my career unless I'm working one 40-hour-a-week job and one "side hustle." I plan on having my main gig fall through eventually.
posted by coffeeand at 9:20 AM on November 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


It seems that overall the rate of multiple job holders has fallen in the last 20 years: from around 6% of total employment to about 5%. This link shows a graph of the last year, but you can change the start year to 1995 with the dropdown. Here is some demographic breakdown of multiple jobholders as of the end of 2017.

This is from the BLS's monthly Current Population Survey.
posted by shothotbot at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


+1million to COD on real health care not tied to what are increasingly becoming unicorn jobs. I'm a performing artist in a field that's basically contract work by default. I was just comparing notes with a colleague of mine who lives in France; her life is a lot like mine in terms of job uncertainty except without a whole lot of the existential dread that accompanies my USAmerican citizenship.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics include contract workers in their databases? I can't find any confirmation whether they do or not, and I would think the explosion of contract-work would absolutely impact those numbers, however if it is only measuring "traditional" work where you have an actual job, then it's going to be misleading.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:46 AM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've been insulated from this by working as staff at large universities who save all their exploitation for adjunct faculty. One time when I was back on the job market due to an end in my soft money salary source, I got a call from a recruiter. They were recruiting for a contract job and asked how much I was making at my current job (a laughably small sum because academia, but stellar benefits also because academia). The recruiter then turned right around and offered me $x+1/hour. On contract. I laughed for about as long as you're thinking I did. Then I got angry because holy shit the balls!
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


"If we decoupled unemployment insurance, health insurance, etc from employers, it wouldn't really matter if you worked 35 hours or 36, 39 or 40, other than a couple of hours' wages."

Along with unions, this seems to be one of the obvious solutions. Employers shouldn't be responsible for the social safety net since they have and will shred it at every opportunity.
posted by NBelarski at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics include contract workers in their databases?

This is the so-called household survey (as opposed to the establishment survey which gets reports from businesses) where they call people and ask them if they have worked for money at all in a particular week. So assuming there is not a reason to think contract workers are worse at answering the survey, yes it should measure contract workers. Non-response to the survey is a growing issue, though I don't see why it would effect contract workers as opposed to other part time workers.
posted by shothotbot at 10:14 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Considering something like 1 in 4 calls is a scam and no one i know answers the phone i think thouse numbers may be ....unrepresentive.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on November 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


Considering something like 1 in 4 calls is a scam and no one i know answers the phone i think thouse numbers may be ....unrepresentive.

Maybe but they are the best numbers available. They don't just call 1800-the-whelk and leave a message. It's really quite a well run survey. Here is a recent paper on non-response in the household survey. Note that they are aiming for 60,000 households a month.
posted by shothotbot at 10:21 AM on November 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yet another shitty result of the insanity of routing everything through employers

...but if we handled this at the government level you'd be free to work elsewhere? Or maybe work less? I mean, I'm sure you can see the difficulty we're having with the idea...
posted by aramaic at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


I remember having a lucrative on-staff editorial job (please note: those were rare then and are even more rare now) and working so late that I asked for company to the parking lot, which is how I found out that the PoC security guard walking the white woman to her car was working three jobs. Which was unimaginable to me but I totally got that A. he was really doing that and B. he really needed to. The part that was unimaginable to me was that he wasn't disabled or chronically ill yet. These days I know more people who juggle a variety of part-time gigs without benefits. I am one of them. But I live in a country that provides affordable health-care benefits, like most first-world nations, and I weep anew for the friends and family still suffering because of American exceptionalism.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:35 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also, if we had real universal healthcare that wasn't tied to a job I'd probably be much more ok with the gig economy.

Even here in the UK where we do have that, the insecurity that comes from not having a reliable income still takes its toll. The big difference here is probably that there isn't such a sharp dividing line between "part" and "full" time jobs.
posted by atrazine at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


There has always been an element of this available in bar and restaurant. Long hours of operation, multiple shifts and easily transferable skills make double or even triple dipping possible if you are so inclined. And if the money, management or both prove to suck at one place, you still have some cash flow. We even had a saying to be delivered as you walked out the door, assuming the parting was less than amicable and you had little chance of a good reference: "I was looking for a job when I found this one..."
posted by jim in austin at 10:48 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


None of this would be nearly so horrible if it wasn't for insurance being linked to your job. And specifically to a full time job. If you don't have one of those, well, fuck you very much, basically.

Decouple health insurance (and to a lesser extent other insurance-like stuff; portable retirement accounts would be my #2 after health insurance) and then there'd be less incentive to push people down to 25 or 35 hours/week instead of 40, and instead I think you'd see the desire to have fewer employees (because of unavoidable fixed costs) create a preference for full-time positions.

At the same time though, I wonder if there wouldn't be more people interested in working reduced hours. I suspect there are a lot of people who are basically trapped in full-time jobs that they'd much prefer were 20-30 hour/week jobs (for 50-75% of their current pay), but can't ask to drop to part time because they'd lose benefits and end up dead in a ditch.

The net result of decoupling health insurance would be moving bargaining power from employers to employees, though, so we obviously can't have that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2018 [21 favorites]


I suspect there are a lot of people who are basically trapped in full-time jobs that they'd much prefer were 20-30 hour/week jobs (for 50-75% of their current pay)

This is actually something Google does right; you can drop down to 60-80% time, with according reduction in pay, while retaining other benefits.
posted by aramaic at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


I wonder if there wouldn't be more people interested in working reduced hours. I suspect there are a lot of people who are basically trapped in full-time jobs that they'd much prefer were 20-30 hour/week jobs (for 50-75% of their current pay), but can't ask to drop to part time because they'd lose benefits and end up dead in a ditch.

I would love to see this idea get more traction. The possibility of gaining back one day per week (even if losing one day's worth of pay) THRILLS me and I daydream about it often. I think I and my family would be a lot healthier if we had this option.
posted by witchen at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


I imagine a lot more people would like to spend more time with thier kids
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on November 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I imagine a lot more people would like to spend more time with thier kids

Yeah, but whenever it comes up with my employer (who has young kids), it's immediately followed by a "well, dream on, can't afford it." Like it's taken as a given that the financial impact would be too harsh for it to ever work. I try to interject with a quip about how much I love lentils and would gladly make any sacrifice needed, but by then the point is moot.
posted by witchen at 11:11 AM on November 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Well non voluntary labor is a form of servitude any way, he said, anarchistly
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 AM on November 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


I imagine a lot more people would like to spend more time with thier kids

Or maybe they want time to play video games or have an extramarital affair. The reasons why someone might want to work fewer hours really shouldn't matter. Right now in the US, the option to work less but still get insurance from an employer usually doesn't exist.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


asked how much I was making at my current job .... The recruiter then turned right around and offered me $x+1/hour.

No longer legal in my state; yay!

They don't just call 1800-the-whelk and leave a message. It's really quite a well run survey.

I'm not sure if they households that no longer have landlines, though. And that would disproportionately cut out a whole lot of Millennial homes.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


or have an extramarital affair

Or an intramarital affair! That is to say, I'm sure parents would love it if they could send their kids off to school on a Friday and then have 7 hours of alone time.
posted by explosion at 11:42 AM on November 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


"I was looking for a job when I found this one..."

Actually, I always thought the phrase was
"I was looking for a good job when I found this one..."
posted by BlueHorse at 11:50 AM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Considering something like 1 in 4 calls is a scam and no one i know answers the phone i think thouse numbers may be ....unrepresentive.

Maybe but they are the best numbers available.


If I am reading that correctly (low possibility) it looks like they call the same people for 4 straight months, so once they identify people as part of the panel, they stop calling to add to the existing panel.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:55 AM on November 26, 2018


Are there competing stats avaialble that are more reflective of the article's perspective?
posted by Selena777 at 11:56 AM on November 26, 2018


The Current Population Survey will come to your door if you don't answer their calls. (I was one of the households last year).
posted by thefoxgod at 12:49 PM on November 26, 2018


And yeah, you get selected or whatever, they contact you once a month after that for a while. They're fairly persistent so while I'm sure some people still avoid responding, it's not like a poll or something where they call once and give up (I had multiple calls/messages, and when I was slow about responding the guy came to my house, etc).
posted by thefoxgod at 12:50 PM on November 26, 2018


I wonder if there wouldn't be more people interested in working reduced hours. I suspect there are a lot of people who are basically trapped in full-time jobs that they'd much prefer were 20-30 hour/week jobs (for 50-75% of their current pay), but can't ask to drop to part time because they'd lose benefits and end up dead in a ditch.

Ugh this, me. I'm currently working about 25-30 hours a week and despite the reduced pay my quality of life is definitely higher. Of course, this is only possible because I'm on my husband's insurance -- at my workplace, you can't even pay (i.e. get health care but not subsidized by the employer) to join the organization's health insurance if you're less than full-time. What a miserable system.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:56 PM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Well that was depressing. Particularly the no proposed solutions part.
posted by liminal_shadows at 2:22 PM on November 26, 2018


Working 25-30 hours to spend more time with your kids can be great, but at least from what I've observed (experienced), it often means that you're actually going to be filling up the extra time with unpaid cooking/cleaning/errands. Maybe it's different if the dad is part time.

It also seems like corporate-provided health insurance, while it doesn't make much sense on its face, is the last vestige of a culture where employers were supposed to feel some responsibility for their workers. I just can't get behind the idea that precarious piecework jobs would be fine if everyone just had access to health care.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:01 PM on November 26, 2018


I am finishing up my first contract as I speak, with less than two weeks to go before my unceremonious departure because they legally can't extend my stay again and choose not to offer anything permanent my way. My agency does provide healthcare, so I've had and will have coverage through the end of the year before I have to deal with COBRA, but zero paid time off of any sort stings. It's also been an environment where, as a cow orker once put it, "they go out of their way to remind you that you're just a contractor." Obviously, no names.

I was at my previous place of employment for sixteen years. The ride along the way had its ups and downs, but in the end, I was no less a disposable asset and a bean to count than I am now.
posted by delfin at 3:17 PM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


At the same time though, I wonder if there wouldn't be more people interested in working reduced hours. I suspect there are a lot of people who are basically trapped in full-time jobs that they'd much prefer were 20-30 hour/week jobs (for 50-75% of their current pay), but can't ask to drop to part time because they'd lose benefits and end up dead in a ditch.

I'd welcome that option. Ideally by working 6 months full time, then having the rest of the year off, but even part time year-round has its appeal.

In my field it's only really an option at the entry level (where a lot of jobs are seasonal) and at very senior levels (where people can set their own terms). In between it is pretty much all or nothing, especially with regards to benefits.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:13 PM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave
posted by theora55 at 5:34 PM on November 26, 2018


I keep coming back to the history of Ronald Coase's theory of the firm. He was working on his thesis during the early stages of the Cold War, when Western economists were trying to develop theories about the USSR economy when there was little reliable data coming from the region. So he decided to go and study the monstrous firms that were successfully managing workforces the size of small countries.

I know most left-leaning folks hate the comparison between government and business, since it's usually framed at needing to run a lean government at a profit.

But the real underlying finding was that these behemoths survived on inefficiency. You hired for your peak season, and kept them on during lean times. You duplicated processes, because a small mistake early in the process could ruin projects late in the game.

Of course, these were industrial norms that came out of two World Wars. The labor market was tight. Corporations weren't being generous, they were nervous about losing their able bodied employees, and probably didn't completely trust the marginalized labor force left. And of course, unions were able to use that leverage and extract concessions.

But the big point is that inefficiency did a lot to self-insure against the giant risks that large corporations take on. It bolstered their profitability by ensuring they had consumers who could afford their product. In government, it's critical to insulate government services from political influence.

I mean, I can come up with some concrete ways to help stem the tide. It should be cheaper to get quality healthcare on the open market than through your employer. It should be easier to hire an employee who can easily switch tasks in a changing business environment than vet and negotiate contractors with endless change orders. 30 hours a week should be the norm, so that occasional busy seasons don't push people into a workload we know is not just unsustainable, but also unhealthy and often counterproductive.

But the biggest thing is that we need a culture shift. And unfortunately it's more complicated than just giving up our worship of Protestant work ethic. The biggest problem is racism and diversity. Homogenous nations have an easier time getting buy in from their citizens on higher taxes and more generous social safety nets. A nation built on colonialism is going to have less empathy and worry about The Other taking too much of their pie.
posted by politikitty at 6:27 PM on November 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


Since 2006, I've juggled 2, 3, or 4 part-time jobs at a time as contract labor. I was glad to be working from home, but that's all I ever did. I was laid off from two long-term jobs this year, so I got a part-time Joe job, and my feet are killing me. I'm 60, and people ask me if I like my new job. Ha! No, I just like being able to pay the mortgage. I live alone and have three small income streams now, but I'm barely over the poverty line. Job security is a joke.
posted by Miss Cellania at 6:33 PM on November 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


The stress that kills American workers Something about job insecurity and lack of health care.
Workers are seen as a commodity; gotta have 'em when you need them, disposable when you don't. Nice.
posted by theora55 at 7:27 PM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Even for salaried workers, there is also the issue of evaporating defined benefit pension plans. Which maybe makes sense given the changing nature of work, but I really wonder how it’s going to be a few decades from now, when only a fraction of the 65+ community has enough money to live out the rest of their lives.
posted by mantecol at 7:40 PM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hi, welcome to my life now. I last held a full-time, permanent job in 2014. I've been temping off and on since then. Granted, for three of those years, it worked all right since it allowed me to help my mom take care of my dad (who was terminally ill) when needed. However, this year I'm really looking for full-time, permanent work, yet the only work I've been able to get is temp work. (And only part-time, lower-paying than I usually get temp work at that.) It seems like a majority of the available jobs that I'm qualified to do are temp jobs these days.

Let's also remember, at least in my experience for the past few years, getting a temp position is not just a matter of having the agency call with a position, I accept, and then start immediately. These days it's more like the agency calls with a possible position, and if I'm interested, the agency will send my resume (with others) to the client company, who will then interview me if they're interested, and may or may not choose me. In other words, pretty much the same process as going for a permanent job - except going through the agency instead of doing a phone screen or other preliminary interview. (Even for straight temp work - not just temp-to-hire!)
posted by SisterHavana at 7:49 PM on November 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


I saw this quote in a New York Times article about department store Christmas window displays:
Hudson's Bay, which owns Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, announced in October 2017 that the Fifth Avenue building would be sold to WeWork, though the deal has not closed yet.
WeWork... the co-working space business I associate with early start-ups and "digital nomads"? They're now large enough to fill an entire major department store building, and rich enough to buy one in the heart of NYC's expensive shopping district?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:22 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well, the upper floors of the Macy's building in Seattle are now Amazon offices. :o
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:13 AM on November 27, 2018


This is also my life - I work four jobs, although two of them together sort of make a full time job. Neither is especially 'permanent' and the hours vary throughout the year. My income varies a lot.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm in my mid-40s and have a full-time role where I often sit in webinars and attend conferences that talk about the future of the gig economy. Companies are looking at a future in which they can take apart projects and tasks down to individual elements and instead of having a team of highly paid people handling things, they'd love to have a much smaller highly paid core with hourly or per-piece type workers handling tasks leading to completion.

Fortunately, this will require massive cultural/behavioral changes inside of organizations (i.e., right now pockets within an enterprise follow the path of least resistance, which is to just throw more bodies at it and ensure the completion of tasks in a project stay in house and under control of the highly paid people handling things). But if and when this culture changes all these webinars and conferences talk a great deal about how the gig economy is going to benefit those who have a "strong personal brand," can demonstrate with references and ratings how good they are at doing what they're trying to do, and take accountability for their own personal development, staying ahead of industry trends and disciplines.

This personal brand stuff is what scares me the most. I'm hoping like hell I can get all the way through to retirement without having to position myself in the labor market the same way an Instagram influencer attracts interest and such. I get that we all have our own responsibilities to grow and understand our disciplines as well as we can, but when there's ultimately uncertainty over how much you're working combined with the stress of keeping yourself relevant and advertising yourself and your "personal brand," it feels like the future of work is horribly insecure and scary but also comes with a ton of additional work to stand out in a crowded marketplace that isn't going to come naturally to people like me who can maybe write a good CV but aren't great at hustling themselves in the marketplace.

Fingers crossed for 25 more years before this becomes much more common.
posted by GamblingBlues at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


I’ve seen people trying to claim that this is all okay because corporations don’t owe anyone anything.

Bullshit. Companies, big and small, exist because of society, because of the population that buys their products or services. Without the populace, without society, there is no company. The idea that corporations don’t owe anything to society is a sickness of thought.

It’s sickening that people have to scrabble through three or four or more part time positions just to make ends meet, always terrified that one or more of those positions might just disappear. It’s abhorent that being able to live in a home without a roommate (or several) is a fantasy obtainable only by the wealthy. The prevalence of the side gig, the fact that people are forced to monetize any downtime they have simply because the pay they receive leaves them unable to make ends meet is, to me, a sign of fatal illness in society.

I keep waiting for the moment when we take to the streets and say “no more.” I’m less certain it will ever actually come. More and more I think of the ending of Make Room Make Room, where the blind doomsday preacher is forced to confront the fact that the world has not ended, that everything that was, as bad as all of it, still was exactly the same, and he says “you mean we have to keep living like this?
posted by Ghidorah at 8:47 AM on November 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


Considering something like 1 in 4 calls is a scam and no one i know answers the phone i think thouse numbers may be ....unrepresentive.

Maybe but they are the best numbers available.


I used to do Social Security Disability cases, where these numbers would be cited. I argued pretty much every day that just because they were the best numbers available didn't mean that they were functionally any better than making a random guess, and a bunch of the jobs cited didn't really exist - because they don't. Dowel inspector. Watching security screens at a government transit station and having no other features to the job. So much BS.

My personal experience with this is that I spent two years temping in about 2003-2005. I learned to deliberately slow everything I was doing down, because even goofing off half the time I was still faster and more accurate on data entry than most people. I was increasingly frustrated that I would get companies requesting me because my speed meant they wouldn't have to pay me as much as someone slower. At the same time, I wasn't offered any stability, and I was having health issues I couldn't afford to address and of course no insurance. When I finally got a permanent job, one of the temp agencies I'd been working with tried to get me to quit and come back to them, which was sort of hilarious:

"Hey, we want you back, you're really great."
"Uh, cool, but I have a regular job now, and I know at the end of every day that I'll still have a job tomorrow and be able to pay my bills."
"Yeah but come back."
"Also my current job pays more than you, and you won't guarantee me any minimum, and I have health insurance."
"But, uh, temping is flexible!"

Nope.

Currently I work full time and am stuck in the position where my health makes it very hard to be full time, but if I drop below full time I can't pay both student loans and living expenses and also lose eligibility for the student loan forgiveness program, which requires me to work at a nonprofit for about nine more years. If I could get my loans forgiven, I could cut my hours and take better care of myself, but of course that's not possible. I'd try to get them discharged over my disability, but because my disability doesn't prevent me from working I'm not eligible for that - there's no option for "I can work, but not enough to live and pay this off".
posted by bile and syntax at 11:00 AM on December 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


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